On June 22, the creative director of Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton, showcased Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2019 collection in Paris, inspired by the spirit of British artists such as painter Francis Bacon and photographer John Deakin – powerful and charismatic figures who were able to demonstrate sensitivity and vulnerability in their work.
The new collection was presented in the Orangery of the French Senate on the grounds of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Last year, the runway was in the shape of a maze. This season, the catwalk was expansive, like a big empty canvas laid out to bring the best out of each piece.
The late designer Alexander McQueen was renowned in the fashion industry for his tailoring skills. The British fashion house is one of the few to have its own bespoke atelier on Savile Row in London. For Sarah Burton, the tailored garments had to be technically outstanding and, at the same time, romantic and dreamy.
The first three looks were quintessentially British: a sharp navy suit with structured shoulders, a trench suit with a fitted waist helped by a belt, sharp trousers adorned with a classic pine stripe pattern. In this powerful masculine style, the fine detail that referenced the artist were the dangling cuffs. In formal attire, the artist might be a little constrained in his movements, so the cuffs of the shirts were left open to allow more freedom to create – to write a poem, paint a portrait or play music.
With this touch of freedom in the wrist came sparks of colour: two full looks in lipstick pink or cobalt blue – leather rain coats, cigarette trousers, boots and a matching pouch.
The collection played with the construction of traditional menswear, mixing and opposing two fabrics on the same trench coat, wool silk lining on the back of the coat and drawing a trompe l’oeil pattern. After this came more serious biking attire such as black perfecto jackets and leather motocross trousers. Again, demonstrating the creativity of the artist, the perfecto grainy leather jackets, biker trousers, and double breasted suits were not black anymore, but hand-painted with the full palette of colours.
After the craziness, the garments became more serious, somewhere between formal wear and a military style, playing on the colour themes of ivory, red lust and black, which we typically associate with the Grenadier Guards in England. Probably the most stunning pieces of the collection – a black suit with a blood red embroidered brush stroke, and a black single-breasted coat with a gold embroidered brush stroke, both with hanging fringes – gave the impression of swiftness. The final garments, graffiti silk jacquards were embroidered in silver gunmetal and were inspired by the works of Francis Bacon and John Deakin.
At a time when most European menswear brands are heavily influenced by the streetwear tidal wave, Sarah Burton chose to focus on tailored garments for Alexander McQueen. This collection showed the craftsmanship of the house as well as its exceptional creativity – with a hint of modernity.